A Single Seed

The Things a Brother Knows – Dana Reinhardt
January 7, 2011, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Military

Boaz, a suburban upper class high school senior was accepted to any Ivy League school of his choice, and changed the course of his family’s history by making the decision to enlist in the Marine Corps instead of pursuing the path set out before him.

The Things a Brother Knows, is the story of how his family’s lives have changed based on this one decision.  Told from the perspective of his younger brother, Levi, the story connects the threads of a family together through the times after war.

Boaz returns from serving in the war a changed man.  He locks himself in his room for days and can barely say three words to any member of his family.  And, he won’t set foot inside of a car.

His brother, Levi, cannot understand how this person who gave up his entire life and his entire family can be considered a hero, when he’s come back so damaged from fighting in a war which no one stands behind.  The story follows Levi, who continues to try to understand this new member of his family.  After a little bit of snooping, Levi discovers that Boaz lied about hiking the Appalachian Trail and has left behind a scribbled up map full of clues.  Levi follows his brother on a journey of discovery in which he not only reacquaints himself with his brother, but with his own identity as an individual.

Here is a 1 minute scene from the book!

Reinhardt has crafted a suspenseful narrative of what it truly means to be a hero.  She balances the emotions of the people left behind with the harsh realities of a soldier’s experience at war.  While giving just a perfect amount of details regarding Boaz’s time overseas, the reader is propelled through the story always wanting just one more clue as to what events created this strong young man who returned a damaged soldier.  Through the perspective of Levi, readers are able to put themselves within the context of the story, and what an everyday person must go through in forming their own identity and choosing their own destiny.  Levi is faced with battles of personal identity, love, friendships, and family ties.  In the end, the reader is forced to contemplate the question, what is a hero?

Readers may also enjoy Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, Fallen Angels and Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers, and Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai.  All of which deal with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.